Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

I found a "go to" recipe in a free Kraft magazine quite a while ago; it's quick and tasty so it was a hit on a lot of fronts. The only problem with it is the Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing, a main ingredient, which has... DUN DUN DUN... high fructose corn syrup. (Kraft- hello- are you there? We soccer moms don't like high fructose corn syrup, in spite of the add campaign the makers of HFCS launched recently. I won't buy food containing that ingredient, including your salad dressings!) So we've experimented with several other organic brands of salad dressing with similar ingredients with sad results, up until tonight. I purchased Napa Valley brand Chinese Chicken salad dressing from Whole Foods and it makes the recipe! It not only has zero HFCS, it also tastes better than the Kraft dressing. Makes it a winner in my book.
Here's the revised recipe:

8 oz. angel hair pasta, uncooked (we usually use a whole package, which I think is 12 oz.)
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1 pound chicken tenderloins
1 sweet onion, chopped into bite sized chunks (or whatever size you like)
olive oil as needed to saute chicken and onions
1/2 cup Napa Valley Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing (we usually use closer to a cup)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. each ground ginger, garlic powder (the original recipe calls for crushed red pepper; we leave it out since the kids don't like spicy food)
Girl Scout Honey Roasted Peanuts (just put the can on the table) (OK, doesn't have to be Girl Scout nuts; regular old peanuts will do just fine)

Saute the chicken tenderloins and onions in olive oil until cooked through, breaking up the chicken with a spatula into bite size pieces.

As the chicken is cooking, prepare the pasta according to package directions, adding the broccoli for the last 4 minutes. (Less if you like your broccoli crunchier; I like mine kind of soft.)

In a bowl, mix the salad dressing, soy sauce, and spices then pour over chicken and onions; cook until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta and broccoli.

We serve this buffet style by allowing each person to dip their own pasta and broccoli, then spoon the chicken/onion mixture over the top and add peanuts to taste.

The original recipe is located on the Kraft website if you want to compare. (And how much tweaking do you need to do to make a recipe your own, anyway?)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Changing Times

All of the busy-ness this past weekend (Sunday was crazy too) got me thinking about how our family has seemed to turn a corner recently. The kids are all out of the baby/toddler stage and starting to go out into the world, and it's like the whole family has been in confinement and now we're suddenly free and bursting out with activity. I think it happened when I wasn't looking, sometime during the lost year that was 2008. Lost because of my grandmother's death and the work involved in settling her estate and, to a lesser extent, the volunteer work I was swamped with for Girl Scouts. (I should've said no, but the work was fun and personally rewarding, and it kept my mind off my grandmother.)

Those things kept me active individually but not the family as a whole; now, more and more often, our activities involve either the whole family or some subset of us. Girl Scouts taught me to camp so I went camping recently with The Eldest and her troop. The Youngest started soccer which involves the two of us going to his practices twice a week, and all of us going to his games on Saturdays. DH and I gave each other bikes for Christmas so we all go biking together as often as we can. Miscellaneous things crop up now like movies we can all go to or the ice skating event we attended Saturday. Sunday is another example- the in-laws hung out with us while we saw "Monsters vs. Aliens", biked, and had a fire and s'mores on the back patio. We've actually become an ACTIVE FAMILY, go figure!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Longest Day

DH dubbed it "the longest day of my life", and while that is a BIT of an exaggeration it's not too far off how things went yesterday. We started out at a soccer game, start time about an hour or two earlier than we usually get up, where we were met by the in-laws. From there we went home briefly to drop off luggage and do a little cleaning. (The Eldest decided to do a LOOOONGGG over due clean out/clean up/rearrangement of her room and still wasn't done, and that's where the in-laws sleep so I had to help her finish up while DH put dinner in the crock pot.) Next we all went out to lunch at Sweet Tomato's. After that we had to take The Eldest to the Sock Hop her Girl Scout troop was running; we stayed for half an hour to help set up. From there we zoomed back home for about an hour where I cleaned up The Niece's room, which is where The Eldest sleeps when the in-laws are here. (The Niece has been sleeping out at the apartment over the barn where she works while her boss is away on vacation but she left her space a disaster for me! Teenagers. Sheese.) Next event- ice skating with The Middle Child's Girl Scout troop. It was a family event so everyone except for the Sock Hopping Eldest went, even the in-laws. It was a great night; we all had a blast and NO INJURIES- yeah! The Middle Child took to the ice like a duck to water (she roller blades quite well) while my father in law and DH got The Youngest going. He had a bit more trouble but he was moving away from the wall and getting around under his own steam by the time we left. He took his share of tumbles; good thing he's still so close to the ground. ;) I managed a bit of ice time, too. I used to take lessons up until I got pregnant with The Eldest but I was still pretty shaky to start out with. I was kind of worried I would have problems with my feet cramping (which happened the last time I went ice skating) but I threw my orthotics in the skates and I was OK! After skating we went to retrieve The Eldest, then home to finish up our quick and easy Christmas dinner. Yes, Christmas- we haven't seen the in-laws since way back in 2008 so we were celebrating a belated holiday with them. After dinner we opened presents, then I had to get a load of laundry in the wash so The Youngest would have clean soccer shorts for today's team photo session, then the day was over and I about passed out- WHEW!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have one really major thing left to do for my upcoming trip with The Eldest- buy our tickets!! I keep poking around on the travel websites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) but I can't make a commitment. I don't have the details I need to make a good decision so it's intimidating! Do I need trip insurance? If so, can I get it if I book on-line? How does it work? How are the airlines rated? Are the planes safe? How old are they? How comfortable will we be? Will we be treated well or just herded around like cattle? Where can I find reviews of the airlines from other travelers? (OK, I can probably google that last one.) I heard you can get the best deals by booking on a Wednesday, which is an opportunity I'm passing up for this week, anyway, in about 40 minutes. Scary stuff, man!

Far less scary, we have to book a place to stay in Barcelona. I'm hoping we'll be able to find a little B&B in a quieter area of Barcelona, or possibly outside the city towards the town where the Salvador Dali museum is located. We'll have more of a hostel experience in London at the Girl Scout World Center, then a fancy hotel (thanks to a friend of mine getting us employee rates- she's so terrific!!) in Paris, so to round out our experience I want something along the lines of a B&B in Barcelona- smaller, more intimate, comfortable. I'm not sure, though; maybe the quieter area or outside of town thing might not work since we'll be relying on public transportation and our own 2 feet to get around.

On the fun side of things, there was an article about the Barcelona soccer ('scuse me, football) team that said you haven't experienced Barcelona until you've been to a game. FC BARCA, FC BARCA!!!! (And I learned today that Barca is pronounced with a rolled RRRR and the C sounds like an S. Which totally twists MY tongue, but I'll practice!) The Eldest is up for it, so I have to see if there's a game while we're in town, then try to score tickets. (DH will be so jealous. We'll buy him a souvenir.)

Wow, there's a lot to do, and a lot of decisions to be made!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I survived the weekend!!! I went camping with The Eldest and three other girls from her Girl Scout troop, along with roughly 70 other girls from various other troops, at the camp our local Girl Scout council owns a few hours away from here. It was actually a lot of fun except for the not sleeping thing. The weather was mostly GORGEOUS although for the last night it got down to a chilly 59 degrees in the wee hours; brrrrr. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it was a Camporee for older girls so they were all middle and high schoolers; that made things a lot easier on the leaders! They are so independent compared to the Brownies and elementary age girls. I didn’t have much to do other than just be there for them, with some minimal supervision. Here’s how minimal I got- the other leaders were all official and talking to their troops after our arrival, giving them the rules and going over the schedule and so forth, so I felt like, as the leader representative, I should be doing those things too. I called my four girls over and said “I’m supposed to be telling you things now, so what should I be saying?” As the veteran campers they are, they proceeded to outline the rules for me and came up with a few I wasn’t aware of! ;) As for the schedule, I got it at check in when we first arrived at the camp gate and they had already reviewed it thoroughly by the time we got to our site. I helped out with a few other things the “Chick in Charge” (as she refers to herself, which I get a kick out of) assigned me to over the course of the weekend. She had things so well planned that everything unfolded seamlessly. They completed an Interest Project Patch (IPP) called Uncovering the Evidence. They went canoeing and hung out by the camp pool and then had a big chunk of free time to hang out and enjoy being together. We all went to Founder's Hall for dinner Saturday night and entertained ourselves the way mankind has for millenia before electricity with skits and silliness. The Eldest wrote up the skit her troop presented based on a story one of the other girls has been telling for years about how the camp is haunted! I think it was the best skit of the night and it got a big applause. They exchanged the SWAPS they made before heading back to our site. After dark Saturday night they played “Manhunt” where the “its” were zombies, vampires, and werewolves to fit the “Horror” theme of the Camporee. I know you were wondering if there were s’mores, a campfire, and camp songs and of course there were. The Chick in Charge led us through several camp songs but my favorite was Boom Chicka Boom that went on for about a dozen different variations, including an operatic version that was hilarious and a valley girl version that just about stumped the song leader. (She pointed to various girls to choose the “style” for each verse.) The food was catered too so we didn’t have to cook, which was wonderful. (Wonderful in that we didn’t have the work of cooking; not so wonderful on the quality of the food. I’d say slightly better than school cafeteria level.) :-P

Top Photo: The fire pit where we actually used a grill since there was a fire ban due to the dry conditions. (We weren't allowed to have a fire on the ground.)
Bottom Photo: The cabin I stayed in

Personal Challenges

I had my personal challenges to overcome. ;) I knew there was spotty cell phone service at the camp (although the AT&T people had full coverage every where they went, but of course I have Sprint) but I still forgot to pack a travel clock or watch. (I use my cell as my time piece.) I had it on my list and looked at my travel clock several times as I was packing but it just never made it into the luggage. :-P We were late to breakfast the first day, of course, but that afternoon I was able to leave camp during free time to go to Wal Mart and pick up a new travel clock. I am delighted with it, too! It is super slim so it won’t add any bulk to my luggage and it even tells the temperature, which is how I knew it was 59 degrees out when we woke up! (Lousy reviews on Amazon, though.) I also bought a cheap watch for good measure. Then there was the sleeping issue. OK, I’m a light sleeper. I wasn’t always a light sleeper, it’s an age thing, which stinks big time, but there you go. I also have fibromyalgia so I need sleep in order to function without resorting to Lyrica or other prescription medications. The sleeping conditions at camp are less than ideal, however. The cot springs are noisy and sag something fierce, all of the leaders in the cabin (the adults slept separately from the girls) and even the girls make noise all through the night (potty runs, “Leader So and So, one of the girls is sick can you come help”, rolling over on the noisy springs, snoring, etc.), the VERY LOUD birds get going at the crack of dawn, and you never know for sure what the temperature will be. Oh and bugs. There are all sorts of them in the cabins, although thankfully mosquitoes weren’t a big problem since it was cool this weekend. I’ve been to this camp once before so I knew what to expect and I went prepared with a couple of options. The first night I tried an air mattress with a foam egg crate pad, a sleeping bag air mat, and a sleeping bag piled on top of the cot and cot mattress. That didn’t work; it didn’t help the sagging issue and both the cot and the air mattress squeaked LOUDLY every time I moved so I couldn’t get comfortable since I didn’t want the noise to keep the other leaders up all night. (Which I did anyway; one of the other leaders commented about the noisy air mattress in the morning- sorry!) The second night I ditched the cot and put two of the camp mattresses directly on the floor topped with the (now deflated but I was too lazy to take it off) air mattress, the foam pad, the sleeping bag air mat, and the sleeping bag. Ah; the winning combination. I was able to get comfortable and actually slept a couple of hours before the girls started coming in. One of the girls in another troop got sick and there was a lot of fetching of the first aid person (who was sleeping in the bed next to mine) and slamming of creaky cabin doors and so forth. (That whole troop wound up leaving early to get the girl home, poor kid.) One additional thing helped me get the little sleep I managed to sneak in- my MP3 player. I loaded it up with my Transitions II CD which is womb sounds combined with soothing music designed to help babies sleep better. We played it for all of our kids when they were infants so I know I can sleep to it. I put in my ear buds, cranked the volume, and most of the snores and squeaks and rustles faded into the background. I was a little sad that the crickets and forest sounds also faded into the background, but you can’t have it all.

I guess one of the things I enjoy about camping is the challenge of finding a way to maximize my creature comforts in a rustic setting, so since I was able to do that, and the girls had such a great time, I consider this camping experience a huge success!

Additional Thoughts

One other aspect of the trip was the chance to spend time with The Eldest and her friends. She’s 15 going on 16 so I’m very aware of the short time we have left with her. She’s on the brink of adulthood and moving on to live her own life so I treasure every second I can spend with her now. I was waffling about going/not going this weekend when I asked her if she would like me to go; she very firmly told me “YES”, which made up my mind. In going with her I passed up a Girl Scout activity with The Middle Child and a soccer game with The Youngest, but for all too long I’ve passed up activities with her because the younger two were just too young for me to leave them. As a former La Leche League mom I’ve always believed in nursing my babies and staying with them to bond so I wouldn’t go on any over night trips with The Eldest while they were little. Now they are older so I’m taking these opportunities to go and do and spend time with her as much as possible. Yes, I felt a fleeting sense of guilt for missing the tea party and the soccer game, but as one of the other leaders pointed out they are so young they won’t remember; The Eldest will remember this camping trip, though. So will I, and I’ll remember the extraordinary young woman she is, and the wonderful young women her friends are. It was my privilege and honor to chaperone them this weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nature Encounters

Even here in the wilds of suburbia we still have occasional encounters with nature. Yesterday was one such day. The Middle Child’s Brownie troop was here yesterday afternoon and the girls chose to play an outdoor game to end the meeting. Most of the girls had already left when The Middle Child, The Youngest, and one of the Brownies came running over to me saying there was a baby bird in the lake! I went over to see and sure enough, there was the cutest little baby bird perched on a reed about a foot from the shore. A rescue was called for! The Eldest ran to get our pool net and fished him (or her) out; he hopped right on the edge and was very cooperative. We took him to our backyard; my thinking was give him a safe place to dry out then see if he would fly away. We put the net, with the bird still on it, across the picnic table. He hopped off, then fluttered onto a planter on the picnic bench, then half fluttered/half fell onto the ground under the table. From there he hopped over to me, a couple of feet away from the table, and JUMPED ONTO MY LEG!!! Yes, he really did! He was perched at the top of my ankle sock leaning against my leg, probably for warmth. He seemed perfectly content to just hang out there while we took pictures and tried to figure out what to do. I knew from previous bird rescues to fix up a shoe box with a heating pad underneath (half on, half off the heating pad so it doesn’t get too hot) and holes in the lid so we got that ready for him. The kids were all clamoring to touch him but I wouldn’t let them; I was worried it would scare him to death. I had to get him off my leg, though, so I managed to get him to perch on my finger. He was so tame, and did I mention the cuteness thing? The Eldest said he was so cute it hurt, and I think that’s a pretty accurate summation. I put him in the box and he fluttered up to perch on the edge. The Brownies all having left by this point, I left The Eldest to watch him while I looked up the local wildlife rescue facility. I told them we had an abandoned baby bird that looked to me like a kingfisher and they said to bring him on down. The Eldest said he was still perched on the edge so I told her to gently get him in the box so we could put the lid on, so she tried. He very obligingly hopped on her finger, but then wouldn’t get off and go in the box! Instead of going from her finger to the box, he went further up onto her hand. She was melting into a little puddle from the cuteness factor, but we finally managed to work together and got him gently inside the box and put the lid on. We drove out to the rescue center, missing soccer practice for The Youngest, and took the bird in. It was kind of anti-climatic from there on out; the guy peeked in the box and whisked the bird away, and that was that. He came back out and told us it wasn’t a kingfisher, but he looked it up to figure it out for us and concluded we had a cerulean warbler. (Boy, was I WAY off! But we have kingfishers around here, and the beak, and it was a baby and all…) We asked how they would take care of the bird and he said they have special baby bird food they will feed him with a dropper, they’ll give him medicine, and they’ll keep him in a special incubator to keep him just the right temperature. They also said we could call and check on him after 24 hours, which we’ll do later today. He said the bird was definitely injured or he would have flown away, so we did the right thing. It was a fascinating experience; I’m so thankful I could show my children how we should all take care of nature and other living creatures, and I'm thankful we were able to give the little bird a chance to recover. The Youngest says he wants to go out looking for more baby birds today!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Here's a picture of the SWAPS The Eldest's troop came up with for their Camporee! I just love it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gorgeous Day

We had a lovely day yesterday. The Eldest and 3 other girls from her Girl Scout troop met at the local craft store to pick out items for SWAPS they wanted to make and I was in charge of chaperoning the meeting, which, as a not very active co-leader, is not usually a job that falls to me. (There was one other mom with us too.) I got such a kick out of hanging out with the girls! I helped them brainstorm to figure out what they wanted to make, made a few suggestions, reminded them to factor in the cost per item, and then hauled them all back to my house after they made their purchases to get started making the SWAPS. They are for an upcoming Camporee with their service unit and the theme is "HORROR". (It's for older girls so they won't be scaring any Brownies!) They bought little tiny ziploc baggies and filled them with items for a "Supernatural Survival Kit". They put in little water drop stickers for "Holy Water" (you'd be amazed at the stickers they have out now), a clove of garlic, half a toothpick for a "Wooden Stake", a silver bead for a "Silver Bullet", and a beadish thing shaped like a canine tooth- they threw that in for a "Werewolf Fang", just for fun. They also included a little description card printed on cardstock and splattered with red dye/inky stuff to look like blood and finished it all off with a large safety pin. They worked outside on our patio picnic table and the weather was very accommodating.

After they left I didn't want to go in so we all went on a bike ride to a park that's just up the street. The little ones played on the jungle gym and swings, The Eldest wandered around by the lake enjoying the view, and DH and I sat on a bench keeping an eye on things. (The Niece has been away all weekend; she's been spending the night at an apartment at the barn where she works so she can help with a horse show.) You couldn't have ordered a more perfect day; the temperature was mild, the sky was blue, and the kids were getting along well without all the sibling squabbles they fall into from time to time.

We peddled on home then DH and I went out for an additional walk for just the two of us; the day was so clear we could see the contrails from the shuttle launch with the colors from the setting sun reflected on the stream of smoke. We spent part of the walk puzzling over an odd puff of smoke or cloud or emissions from the shuttle or something; we never did quite figure out what it was, but listening to DH talk about it and try to figure it out reminded me once again of one of the things I love about him. He likes to figure things out; he puzzles through and worries with it like a dog with a bone until he comes up with an answer or solution. I'll never forget the first time he took me home to meet his parents. They fixed a meal for us and we were sitting around talking afterward, finishing our drinks and chit chatting. Someone, his brother, I think, asked where the water in a glass of ice water is the coldest, and set off a long debate. Is it around the ice cubes? Does it sink to the bottom? I don't remember what the conclusion was, but I was fascinated by the discussion! His whole family has a level of intellectual curiosity that I absolutely adore. He's also like this with friends. He had a work/study job while he was in college and several of his co-workers were PhDs. They would go out after work to hang out and have these debates that would just blow your mind! I could never get a word in edgewise, which was frustrating, but other than that listening in was incredible. They just didn't talk to each other the way I was used to hearing people converse. They could disagree on a point and argue it to the death, but respectfully, then they would be agreeing on the next point, then back to disagreeing, and I think over the course of the time they were getting together they probably had all of the world's problems solved. They talked about everything, too- current events, politics, physics, math, psychology, trivia, you name it. Ah, the good old dating days!

But I digress, and the day continued. We even got to go out to eat for Date Night, something we've been neglecting lately, followed by a Tivo movie to finish up the evening. I didn't get anything done around the house, but I sure had a great Sunday. :)

PS: If you look at the launch photos, go down to about the 15th one to see the weird cloud.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Travel Preparations

The Eldest and I will be traveling in a couple of months taking our first trip to Europe for her 16th birthday present (a little early). This is the trip of a lifetime for me, the one I've wanted to take since I was a teenager. I'm so thankful I can give this gift to her at such a young age; the educational opportunities provided by world travel are unparalleled, for starters. I also have this funny feeling she's going to travel when she's a young adult so I want her to acquire some travel skills while she's still under parental supervision! ;) We're in full out preparation mode now. Even though we're going budget, I've been shopping for appropriate (and inexpensive) clothing. I'm NOT a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination and I pay little attention to my clothes beyond trying to look neat and tidy; The Eldest seems to have acquired the same values, although the neat and tidy thing can be a little sketchy were she's concerned. Given that, I realized we don't really have much to wear on a trip. We don't want to take a lot, but some appropriate clothing a little dressier than our usual jeans/jean shorts is definitely in order. (We hear they'll spit on you in Paris if you wear jeans and sneakers.) (OK, maybe that's a little drastic, but I'm just sayin'.) We spent this afternoon at a couple of local discount retailers trying on clothes and actually managed to find a few things and have fun at the same time. I really enjoy her company; she's a delight to hang out with. I frequently say to my kids "how did I get so lucky that I have the 3 of you?" because I am truly, truly blessed with each of them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Blog List

You may notice that I've added a few more blogs to my "My Blog List" lately (over there on the right). As I am working on a blog of my own, I'm starting to pay more attention to other blogs. The ones I've picked for my list all appeal to me for different reasons. Organizing Junkie is the blog that got me started with the Menu Plan Monday links. At Shore's End is the second non-relative blog I added to my list; Melinda was one of the first people to comment on my blog and I enjoy reading her posts about her growing family. She's also a very talented photographer, so there's more inspiration for me. There are a couple of others I've added because of the photography- Dutch Girl Cooking and the newest addition, Use Real Butter. Dutch Girl also has a couple of recipes that look good; I've printed one out to try but haven't put it on the menu plan yet. Writer Dad inspires me with the written word; he's one of those natural storytellers that has a way with words I can only envy. Mommy Coddle was a spur of the moment addition; I liked one post on there and I will have to go back to see if it's going to keep my interest. Vegan Planet is the blog for the author of one of my favorite cook books, Apocalypse Chow, so that had to go on my list. Living Introverted speaks to me; I am an introvert and every time I read Lee Ann's posts I'm going "yes, that's me, yes, I can see that, yes, she really understands". (And her first book just came out!) "Wait, What Am I Doing Here" is near and dear to me as it is my daughter's blog. She posts a very small portion of her unique art work and writing there. She is also one of those people for whom writing comes as naturally as breathing. The Dog's Breakfast is my brother in law's blog (along with occasional posts from his wife) about life in Australia. There are so many blogs out there to choose from! As I'm stumbling around on the internet I tend to like the food related ones the best, although as you can see I have non-food blogs listed as well. If you like the food porn too, ;) then check out the list under "Links I Like" for the Top 50 Food Blogs, where you'll find other favs like Pioneer Woman Cooks and Smitten Kitchen. As for how I found the ones on my list, I stumbled onto exactly half of them. The other half were found via links elsewhere or they belong to relatives. It's an adventure, like going out into the Wild West, every time I stumble; you never know where it's going to lead you. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weight Maintenance

As mentioned in my profile, I lost over 45 pounds in 2007 and I've managed to keep it off since then. I do find the numbers keep creeping up lately, darn it all, and I'm maintaining just a couple of pounds higher than I would like. After losing over 45 pounds I'm now struggling with 2, and it feels like just as difficult a battle as it ever was. :-P I am staying within my range, however, so I'm actually quite happy about things. I don't have a particular target weight, rather I have a range, 129 (which I think I hit ONCE) to 135. I was hovering around 132 up until the holiday season in 2008, now I'm hovering around 133 to 134. I have gone over 135 but I always manage to get back down; it only stays over 135 for a few days, tops. 135 is the weight I was at when I reached my adult height (5'7") back in high school so I consider that my "set point" weight, and that's how I determined my target weight range. I still have to watch what I eat almost as closely as when I was losing but it's a lifestyle for me now. I try to eat healthfully, watch portions, limit sweets, and exercise almost daily. I menu plan weekly which has helped in a variety of ways beyond weight control. One thing I don't do is record what I eat, but I don't really have to because of how I have things set up. When I'm following my own plan, I eat healthy foods, limit portions at each meal, have a set snack daily, and eat fruit if I get the munchies. Where I get into trouble is when I start dinner prep too late at night when I'm tired and already hungry. I tend to snack on carbs since they are readily available (the kids' cereal, crackers, chips, etc.) and hard to resist. "I'll just have a little bit" turns into "oops, that was way too much" all too easily. I also have snack attacks around PMS time, which typically results in a bump up of the numbers on the scale. Special occasions get me, too, which is why I'm struggling with those 2 pounds- I put them on around Halloween last year and then couldn't manage to lose them over the holidays (or actually lost them then put them back on several times). This year has already been full of stress that's not seeming to want to let up, so it's been tough going. I am determined, though! I'll get my hovering back down to 132 yet. One step I've taken to work on that is adding to my exercise routine. DH and I bought bikes for each other for Christmas so I've been biking after my walks on some days. I didn't want to extend my walks (I get bored) but I needed to increase my cardio time so it finally dawned on me that biking would be a good solution. Wow, biking really works those thigh muscles; yowsers! So far no results on the scale, but then I've been a little out of control with my eating lately. Yes, stress eating with all that's been going on, but I'm resolved to get back on track, starting with a trip to the grocery store to load up on fruit tonight. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Birds and The Bees

Yesterday, as we were having a cuddle before the bedtime routine officially began, The Youngest asked me about babies. He's been bugging me a lot lately about having another baby, which is absolutely out of the question; my theory is that he wants someone HE can boss around like everyone else bosses him around all the time. Except for his dad, who's at work a lot of the time, everyone in the house is female and we're all older than he is so he gets bossed around quite a bit, and that can be hard on a little guy's ego. I get where he's coming from on this one, but it does lead to discussions that can be somewhat... uncomfortable, like last night. He was pursuing the "where do babies come from" question with me, and kept going with it. Babies grow in their mommies, just like in the book we read about it. Well, how do they get in there? They come from the daddy's sperm and the mommy's egg that get together and start the baby. Well, what’s the sperm, and where does it come from? The daddy makes it and it has all the cells that help to make a baby. How does he make it? It comes from his penis. How does it get in the mommy? Does she drink it? (OK, about lost it there, and debated furiously with myself about how to answer so I won't warp him and he'll develop a healthy sexuality as an adult, but not be encouraged to try anything as a teen, or anything.) No, the daddy puts it in her private parts. Oh. GROSS! I'm NEVER getting married! (Again the internal debate.) Well, when a grown man and a grown woman are in love and married, it can be kind of fun. Muffled comment from under the covers- can we please not talk about this anymore? Yes, my darling son, we can stop talking about this right now!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Random Ramblings

In hopes of getting the "Beat the Blahs Black Bean Cakes" recipe posted, I've sent an e-mail to Robin Robertson, one of the authors of "Apocalypse Chow", where we found said recipe and one of my favorite cook books. I don't know the protocol for posting recipes on blogs from cook books so I thought it best to ask first, and I'm keeping the fingers of my non-injured hand crossed that she says OK!

Speaking of my hand, it's healing slowly. It gets a little better every day; the swelling is going down and mobility is slowly improving. Typing is somewhat easier. I could probably wrap my hand around the mid point of a baseball bat now, but that's as close as I can get to making a fist. Better than at first, though! I'm just so very thankful that if I had to injure a hand, at least it's my left one; whew. I don't know how I would have managed if it had been my right hand. I found a cool (literally) new product at the local drug store that's been helpful- peas! But not edible peas, cold therapy peas. They come in several sizes and shapes and they are just right for boo boos, both for kids and grownups. (And I'm not getting paid to say that, either; I just like the product.) They ARE NOT teethers so they aren't good for babies and toddlers, just FYI. My kids like them since they aren't babyish like the Dora cold packs, which they are way too old for now. ;) I've been walking around with cold packs for days now; I'm ready to be over it and back to normal, already!! I see the hand doctor today; I'm betting he's going to send me to physical therapy, which I so don't have time for. ~:-P

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

DH has decided he likes the menu plan on-line, so even though I'm not linking to Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie this week, here's the plan:

Today, lunch: leftovers (we had Jamie Oliver's Tender and Crisp Chicken With Tomatoes last night and there's plenty left for a second meal since we put in more chicken than the recipe called for)
Today, dinner: chicken soup (The Eldest has relapsed with her cold again; she's walking around coughing and miserable so she needed it)
Tuesday lunch: chili (DH's own secret recipe)
Tuesday dinner: either Speedy Chicken Stir Fry or deli sandwiches from the grocery store, depends on if I feel like cooking or not :-P
Wednesday lunch: Balsamic Chicken
Wednesday dinner: Delicious Beef and Potatoes (it's a favorite with the kids)
Thursday lunch: Spaghetti, as usual
Thursday dinner: Crock pot turkey (throw a breast in the crock pot, season it up, and let it rip all day long) with side dishes to be determined
Friday lunch: Oven fried chicken (my mother in law's recipe) with a fresh veggie and some fruit on the side
Friday dinner: Turkey Philly Sandwiches
Saturday lunch: eat out at Sweet Tomatoes after The Youngest's first soccer game (We all love, love, love Sweet Tomatoes restaurant; it's kid friendly, healthy, everyone gets what they want, and it's reasonably priced.)
Saturday dinner: Black Bean Cakes, rice, applesauce, and carrot salad
Sunday lunch: Grillades and Grits
Sunday dinner: Date Night; order pizza for the kids and sitter

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Watch This

If you like to eat, and want your children to be able to eat, and would like to be able to AFFORD your food, and want to prevent massive food riots in the not too distant future, and want to be an informed, aware citizen of the planet, block off an hour and 48 minutes and watch this:


Scary, kids.

Back to the ER again today!

And now The Niece is in the hospital...

Poor kid- I feel so bad for her I can't stand it. She developed excruciating pain in her lower right side and they're thinking appendicitis. She was in the ER for hours before her hospital admission. I'm home for a moment to grab a few things then I get to spend the night in the lovely hospital recliner.

This was NOT the way I was hoping my week would go!

Update: The surgeon came in this morning and checked The Niece. The doctor feels it's not appendicitis after all- whew! Her color is good and her white count went down so she's improving, whereas if it was appendicitis she should be worsening. She'll be staying in the hospital one more night for observation; see if she keeps her food down, if her white count stays down, and so forth. The doctor said it's more likely a bad muscle pull, which can hurt like all get out. They've given her some heavy duty medications for it, so they are taking it very seriously.

I spent the night on the dreaded hospital recliner- oh, the horror! It wasn't too bad, though; I even managed to sleep a little. That was in spite of the snorer two beds away- wow, I'd hate to be married to that one! He was rattling the windows. Hope they're checking him over for sleep apnea; yeesh.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm Wounded!

Hey, did you know walking is actually a high impact sport? It is when I'm doing it, anyway. I wiped out when I was exercise-walking during The Youngest's soccer practice tonight and bent the fingers of my left hand backwards when I went down. Suffice to say I wasn't planning on spending 3 hours in the ER, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Typing is a little uncomfortable so I'll save the details for another day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flash Freezing

Flash freezing is a wonderful kitchen skill that I've used with my strawberries, but it's handy for a lot more than that. I've also used this technique for burger patties; you can use it for anything that would normally clump together when frozen in the same container/freezer bag. What you have to do is spread the item, burger patties, for instance, out on wax paper in a single layer on a cookie sheet, not touching. Once everything is all spread out you throw it in the freezer for a few hours. After the patties are frozen, you can put them together in a freezer bag for storage without any worries that they will stick to each other. When you need one burger, you can pull out one, or two, or the exact amount you need without having to defrost the entire contents of the baggie. I've used this with my healthy burgers several times and it's great, plus the strawberries! They are so delish, and I can pour out a handful onto my bowl of cereal every morning for a breakfast full of pure bliss.

PS: My mom taught me this one, so here's to her! :)

PPS: My first photo upload! I'm so proud. ;) This is a picture of our strawberries with a partially completed cookie sheet. We packed a lot more on there; as long as they are in a single layer and not touching it works. To properly credit the lovely photo, one of the kids took it; not sure which one, but it was either The Middle Child or The Youngest.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Girl Scouts at the Mall

Our local Girl Scout council has this activity that is a lock in/sleepover at an area mall. It was this past weekend and ran from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the next morning. We were there, heaven help me! I went along with both of my daughters and my niece. The Eldest was with her troop, The Niece kind of did her own thing, and I stayed with The Middle Child, two girls from her troop, and one other mom. (More girls were supposed to go but they got sick.) It was EXHAUSTING but fun. The introvert in me had a hard time coping and I'm really drained even today, but it was worth it and I'm planning to do it again the next time. ~:-P They didn't keep the whole mall open for us- none of the larger stores and only some of the smaller ones stayed open- but there was enough to keep us all entertained and fed. The most popular stores were Build A Bear and an accessory place. We managed to get checked in with the first group (we got there over an hour early to line up) so we were in way before the crowd, so we went to Build A Bear first thing. That was the first time we were able to go to that store during that event and we were lucky! By the time we left the line was a mile long and moving sllllooowwwwllllyyyyy. They also had non-shopping related activities like a DJ, a band, face painting, bounce houses, hop scotch, a story area, and so forth to get away from the materialistic aspect of having an event at the mall. (Which some of the parents really have an issue with, and I can understand that.) It's such a fun event for the girls, though. The little ones have the fun of hanging out someplace with big girls so there's the "cool" factor for them, and the big girls have fun hanging out with each other. The Eldest had a blast. Her troop is old enough to be able to go around by themselves so they pal around acting silly all night. She got temporary tattoos and had her face painted with flowers down one side. She bought a sword. (!!!) OK, a fake sword. They came home tired but happy.

Now if I can only recover! (I don't think my sore legs will ever be the same.) ;)